On Sunday afternoon, more than 100 people gathered for a memorial ceremony for Jürgen Conings, whose body was found last week after a month-long manhunt, even though the authorities forbade it.
The attendees gathered around 2:00 PM close to the Dilserbos in the municipality of Lanklaar, where Conings’ body was found last week, according to the Belga news agency.
While the local Maasland police on Friday announced that the event was forbidden from taking place due to too much danger to public order, the meeting was tolerated by the authorities.
“We will be present and respond appropriately and flexibly based on the number of people,” a police spokesperson told Het Nieuwsblad earlier on Sunday.
Participants, however, were not allowed to walk into the Dilserbos up to the tree where Conings was found dead last weekend.
Conings disappeared on 17 May with heavy weaponry, leaving behind several letters, one of which included a threat to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst, and since garnered support among certain groups.
Some participants brought wreaths of flowers and a photo frame with the image of Conings when he was a soldier to the place of the gathering.
Besides a number of local people, a bus with participants from West Flanders travelled to Lanklaar. The small parking lot was quickly filled up with about fifty vehicles, and other people had to park along a nearby street, supervised by the police.
On Friday evening, the official final farewell for Conings took place in a funeral home in Maasmechelen, and a private cremation for family and people close to Conings happened on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, around 1,000 supporters, including several military veterans wearing their red berets, took place in a motorcade to the funeral home in Lanaken, where his remains were being kept.
According to the funeral home, some 900 memorial cards – a souvenir of the deceased bearing a photo, basic details and usually a verse – were handed out to those present.